My girl

You may have noticed that in my recent posts, Jacob has been the star. Annalise sometimes appears, but she is generally a by-stander during the hilarious antics of her brother. In some posts, she has been completely absent. There is a reason for this. And that reason is NOT that Jacob is my favorite. It is also NOT that he is funnier or cuter. It is also NOT that she is naughtier or boring.

Ok, maybe Jacob is funnier right now. But mainly because he is two and it’s part of his job. It’s funny when the two-year-old escapes and runs to the back yard buck naked and says to you as you finally discover him outside going down the slide on a sunny day, “Ooooh… My BUNS are HOT, Mama!” If the 4 year old did that, it wouldn’t be quite as funny. It would be just be naughty. And also inappropriate. And it may be funny – although not in the moment – that he stuck his hands in his diaper at the dinner table and showed us the “dirt” he found inside that was now on his fingers, but I would not be laughing and posting it for all to read if his big sister had done so. So as a two-year-old, his opportunities for hilarious entertainment are really less restrictive than with the four year old. TWO is funny. It just is.

And that isn’t to say that FOUR isn’t funny. It’s just different. I did laugh when Annalise said to me, “Mommy, what’s that kind of poo-poo called when it comes out really smoove? (smooth) Because I think I have that.” I also laughed when she believed Grandpa Kitchen when he told her there was a little man inside the red Staples button on his desk, so that each time you push the button, the little man says, “That was easy.” She ran to show me the red button and told me all about the little man that lived inside, but then she dropped it and it landed upside-down. “Oh. Never mind. Grandpa was just teasin’. I see where the battery goes.”

So yes, she makes us laugh too. But the real reason I haven’t written much about Annalise is because, well…. I can’t. Not without crying. Lately, we have watched our little girl change so much. Mature, grow, and think deeply. She is still funny. She is still naughty. She is still 4.

But in some moments, she seems 12. Or even 16. Sometimes, she asks deep questions, and we have a conversation that I didn’t know I could even have with her.

Like the other day, when she asked Matt if the people that live on the bottom of the earth are upside-down since we’re “by the top” and we’re right-side-up. Too bad Mama wasn’t around when she asked that one, because I’m fairly certain she has some major misconceptions now about the world being “round but still sorta flat at the same time.” Thank you, Daddy. Annalise now thinks the world is a pancake.

Or yesterday when she asked me, “Mommy, what does ‘evicted’ mean?” I have no idea where she even heard the word. You could insert a thousand different words there that she has asked me about after overhearing strangers’ conversations, something on the radio, or in a song.

Or like the other day when she asked me how the message I type to daddy on my phone gets to him wherever he is. And how do they know where he is? And how do the words go up in the sky and land on his phone? And why – if we pray really hard, and if God loves us really much – do sometimes our prayers not get answered with a yes, “like when I pray about that I really want to see my cousin I miss so bad. Other people get to LIVE BY their cousins and see them EVERY DAY. I don’t even get to see mine AT ALL. And…

My girl is growing up. I love to watch it so much, and at the same time, I want it to stop now. This growing up thing, it’s so emotional. On the parents, I mean. I’m scared to blink.

This weekend, we watched her perform at her ballet recital. She was beautiful. She did amazing. She remembered all her steps. Then at one point, she lost her footing and stumbled – just for a moment. My heart jumped into my throat, my stomach fell. Matt gasped. She continued her dance and I waited for her to turn so I could see her face. It seemed like an eternity as I watched, expecting to see tears or a face I knew was holding them back. I was ready to run backstage to meet her and hold her while she cried and to tell her it was okay and that I was so so proud of her. Instead, she turned, and I saw my girl. On her feet, on her own. Beaming with a smile.

Part of me shouted inside, “ATTA GIRL! THAT’S MY GIRL!” Another part of me cried inside, knowing she was brave and strong… all on her own. She didn’t need me standing next to her or holding her hand or telling her to get back up. Because she was big enough and brave enough and confident enough to do it without me.

The show was over, and all the performers came out with their classes for the final bow. First the oldest girls, then the next oldest, on down to the youngest little darlings in their adorable tutus. Annalise’s class was third to last – third to youngest –  led out by their teacher, as all the little girls’ classes were. She curtsied and took her place on the stage. My heart swelled with pride.

There are two things we realized that night.

1) Our girl is growing up. She is really such a big girl.

2) Our girl is still very very little.

I am so so proud of my big-little girl.

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